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By Erik Ortiz
The mayor of Portland, Oregon, asked the city police chief to investigate text messages exchanged between a lieutenant and the leader of a far-right group that according to some officials, confirm a "collusion" – a criticism that the leader of the group then mocked.
Other law-abiding officials and activists say Mayor Ted Wheeler must order an independent investigation – not the one led by Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw.
"The fact that an entity investigates itself creates an unfair result," said Gregory McKelvey, an organizer of the Resistance activist group, Portland. "There is already a mistrust towards this police chief and how this office has treated the right-wing protesters."
Wheeler's concern over these texts, which he describes as "disturbing", follows a report on Thursday by Willamette Week highlighting the correspondence exchanged between Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson and the lieutenant of police Jeff Portland, commander of the Portland Rapid Police. Response team.
The pair shared messages in 2017 and 2018 that were joking sometimes, but also point out that police give preferential treatment to Patriot Prayer and its members, even though they were involved in violent clashes with anti-fascist protesters.
Wheeler is worried because it is precisely these Gibson-led demonstrations that "caused significant disruption and increased fear in our community".
The mayor also said that the texts "seemed to cross several borders" and "raise questions as to whether the warrants are executed consistently and what information is shared with people likely to be arrested".
The Portland Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
The publication of these texts comes a week after the city presented a resolution condemning the white supremacist and the right hate groups.
Gibson's Patriot Prayer, based in Vancouver, on the outskirts of Portland, says it's not a white nationalist organization and believes in gun law and Second Amendment defense. His rallies, however, aroused the interest of white supremacists and white nationalists, and led the police to use pepper bombs and flash grenades to break fights with counter-testers.
Portland police have been criticized for using force against counter-partners.
McKelvey, who was previously arrested by officers during a demonstration, said the ministry already gave the appearance of opposing the counter-candidates, as they often faced them when queuing, while turning to far-right groups.
"I do not think it would be beyond anyone's imagination that police want to have friendly correspondence with right-wing organizations to collect information, but that goes beyond the target when you warn these organizers when new leftist organizations are formed, where are left-wing protesters or how can its members avoid arrest, "said McKelvey. "I attended these rallies and I have never been warned."
In a December 2017 text exchange, Niiya questioned Gibson about one of his members, Tusitala Toese, who had been involved in fighting at rallies and was under a warrant. arrest against him for disorderly conduct.
Niiya told Gibson that the officers had ignored the warrant at a previous protest, but to make sure that Toese had not done anything at the next "likely to grab our attention ", according to the week Willamette.
"If he still has the warrant in the system (I do not direct you, so I do not know personally), the agents could stop him," Niiya wrote. "I do not see the need to stop on warrant unless there is a reason."
Toese, however, was arrested during a protest in downtown Portland the same month, when he had struck a counter-protest, reported The Oregonian.
In response to Niiya's instructions, Portland Police Lieutenant Tina Jones told Willamette Week that it was "unusual for officers to give directions to someone who would stand on a warrant." if the subject was not present ".
In another message, when Gibson announced last year in Niiya that he was planning to run for Congress to represent Washington State, Niiya responded, "Your [sic] run for the office? !! Good for you. County level? "
Gibson ran for the Senate, but lost in the Republican primary.
James Ofsink, another organizer of the Portland Resistance, said that Niiya's and Gibson's lyrics, as well as the publication of Niiya's work e-mails about Gibson, are a "real gun" with favoritism.
Emails sent by Niiya to other officers suggest they knew about his conversations with Gibson.
"I think in Portland, we need concrete practical measures in terms of citizen oversight and a real responsibility of the police," Ofsink said.
Portland commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said in a statement Thursday that "some members of the Portland police are working in collusion with right-wing extremists."
With the Council's chapter on US-Islamic relations in Oregon, she also called for an independent investigation.
Thursday night, in a video on Facebook, Gibson denied that his conversations with Niiya were a way for his group to take over at rallies and said officials in Portland had misinterpreted the interaction.
"When they see two people who treat and talk like adults, like ordinary adults, they collapse," Gibson said. "And the mayor is in crisis, he thinks it's inappropriate for two men to talk to each other, make sure to defuse and avoid conflicts as much as possible."
He added that Niiya had alerted him to the place where the counter-testers were located in order to avoid the clashes.
Niiya, he added, "was trying to do everything he could because the police are blamed whenever there is a conflict".